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To the op-

As for us personally, the dog very rarely dominates. Sometimes, if she does feel playful, she'll make a show of growling but would relinquish anything she had immediately. To people, that is.

If another dog tried to take the resource, then I'd say she'd snap and growl and hoard it.

We "let" her win most of the time, because I don't think it does any harm. It's a game, and she thinks its fun to walk around with her bone or whatever in her mouth and play keep away. She wags her tail the whole time. I think it almost amuses her to think that she has something that we want.

That is, if dogs feel amusement. That's the closest thing I can thing of to it.

So, by playing with a resource when two beings are vying for the resource, would it be fair to say that both are vying for dominance, even if it is playful?

That's probably wrong, but I'm kind of curious about this. Samoyeds are notorious for "packing up" in a more primitive manner then most pet dogs, and have a really high prey drive as well. I wouldn't consider that a need to dominate as much as a primitive drive to survive.

I think most of that can be managed, as long as there is some type of outlet for the animal to express those drives in a healthy manner.

I think maybe I should do more research on canine behavior. I mean, I've read Patricia McConnell and some Ian Dunbar and some Jean Donaldson, but maybe I didn't understand it as well as I thought.
 

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But I don't know of ANYONE who thinks that way or has that desire. (Maybe Koehler?)...Being dominant over the dog 100% of the time is an extreme that I've never heard of or experienced. Even Cesar Millan and Ed Frawley do not fit your idea of a "dominance theorist".
It's very easy to discern a dominance theorist, and it has nothing to do with percentages. A dominance theorist assigns dominance on the animal - the dog is dominant when he does this because he wants x, y, or z. There in lies the problem. If the dog is "dominant", what kind of formative learning is best? Koehler, Ed, and CM all believe fear is the best kind of formative learning for a dominant dog. The only differences between the 3 are Koehler would agree matter of factly, CM would sugar coat it to preserve his ratings, and Ed doesn't give a hoot (dominance theory sells itself).

Dominance is not, however, a characteristic of an animal; it is a characteristic of a relationship. Big difference, as the relationship between two beings changes with context (dare I say preferences); the character of the individuals does not without formative learning.

So, by playing with a resource when two beings are vying for the resource, would it be fair to say that both are vying for dominance, even if it is playful?
This question is so loaded I don't even know where to begin answering it. At some point we'd have to agree on what "play" is or if it even exists.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
FiC

then why use the term "dominant" at all?

because dominence is resource control...

the "dominent" behaviors dogs display are more about avoiding conflict than anything else...


training is a "dealmaking" scenario'...

why use it at all?

seems like an obsolete term for the most part...
 

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The four requirements of dominance (not dominance theory):
1) There must be more than one blooded-being contesting a resource; for example, a dog marking a tree would not be dominance.
2) There must be a primary resource being contested - food, in-season mating partner.
3) There must be a contest - both beings must want the resource. If I like pizza and you don't, there is no contest for the last slice. If you fight me for the pizza anyway, you're just being a jerk, not dominate.
4) The outcome must be repeated - only the repeat winner of the contest can be labeled dominate.

If a guardian is using food to train their dog, and the guardian fully intends to reward the dog for positive responses, this is not a contest, neither the guardian nor the dog should be labeled dominant. You could parse every aspect of a two-being interaction and assign dominate-submissive, but I find this practice tedious and not practical for the definition.
CP, is this your definition or where can I find out more on how these four requirements were defined?
 

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CP, is this your definition or where can I find out more on how these four requirements were defined?
The four requirements are a summary of Drews "Essence of Dominance" definition:
Dominance is an attribute of the pattern of repeated, agnostic interactions between two individuals, characterized by a consistent outcome in favour of the same dyad member and default yielding response of its opperent rather than escalation. The status of the consistent winner is dominant and that of the loser subordinate.
I find this definition to be most descriptive, however, you can find this definition and many others in Dominance Theory and Dogs, James O'Heare.
 
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